One way a forward can create space for themselves in and around the area is to check away from the defender and drop into the hole, between the defenders and midfield. Players who have been very good at doing this are Dennis Bergkamp, Peter Beardsley and latterly, Wayne Rooney. This skill requires a real appreciation of where the space is, how to find and use the space and the ability and technique of how to receive the ball with an open body position, so that they are immediately facing the defender, with their head up.
One way of creating the space is to make an initial movement that threatens the space behind or to the side of the defender. This has the effect of forcing the defender to react to cover the movement and to take their balance in the opposite direction of where the forward wants to receive the ball.
Once this has been achieved, the forwards next movement is into the space that has been created. They must dictate, with their voice, body language - this might include hand signals to indicate where they want the ball played and a spacial awareness to receive the ball on the half turn, where they can see the ball and the defender.
Once the forward has received the ball, ideally on the back foot and on the half turn. They must have the correct attitude to be positive to commit the defender, threaten one side - to force the defender off balance and exploit the space they have created. This can be as simple as aggressively dribbling with the ball to threaten the left side of the defender and to quickly cut back in the opposite direction, once the defender is off balance. It could also involve innovative and skillful dribbling skills and techniques from the forward to beat the defender and create a shooting opportunity in a key area.
Finally, now the forward is in or around the penalty area, they must look up to assess the goalkeepers position and show a calmness and composure, to appreciate that are on the goal side of the defender and to strike an accurate, rather than a power shot. They should also have the presence of mind to follow the shot up for any rebounds.
To help you improve your players understanding of this technique, we have selected a number of relevant animated drills:
NAME: Practice to improve a forwards ability to drop into the hole and turn.
Forwards initial movement is to threaten behind or to the side of the defender.
Exploit the space created by checking back into the hole.
Forward looks to receive the ball on the half turn. Open body, see ball and defender.
Ideally receive the ball on the back foot.
Have a spacial awareness of the space around them.
- Once turned have a positive attitude to quickly attack and commit the defender with the ball.
- Forward should look to threaten and attack one side of the defender - to make the defender move and become unbalanced.
- Use innovative dribbling skills or tricks to exploit the opposite (weak) side of the defender
- Head up and assess goalkeepers position
- Be calm and composed.
- Accurate finish
- Follow up for rebounds.
- Introduce a defender - passive at first. Gradually increase the intensity and realism.
- Use different servers, so that forward receives the ball from different angles.
- Rotate forwards
- Encourage the use of different turning and dribbling skills and techniques